UBM-Undergraduate collaborative group in mathematical biology

Project: Research project

Project Details


Ives, Milewski

The two investigators train a long-term (2-year)

collaborative group of 4 undergraduates working on a suite of

problems in mathematical biology. One of the investigators is a

biologist, and the other is an applied mathematician, yet both

have collaborated with researchers from the other discipline.

The investigators work collaboratively with 4 undergraduates and

address aspects of at least three problems at the interface of

biology and mathematics: (1) Why do periodical cicadas have long,

prime-numbered periods? (2) Why do pineapples, pinecones (and

many other plants) display patterns with Fibonnaci sequences?

and (3) How does the functioning of ecosystems change as they

collapse via species extinctions? These three questions are an

exciting starting point for the collaborative group, and they are

selected to both keep the interest of the students and take life

through the collaborative process.

Although some areas of biology (ecology in particular) have

luminous histories of partnership with mathematics, the current

explosion of theoretical and technological advances in both

fields has upped the ante for interdisciplinary work. To work at

the interface between biology and mathematics, more scientists

need to be trained in both fields, and trained in how to connect

the fields. Recognizing that a single person cannot span the gap

between fields effectively, future scientists must also be

trained to work collaboratively. Using collaborative learning

groups for undergraduates fosters interdisciplinary thinking for

the participating undergraduates and the investigators. It also

serves as a model for training undergraduates to do research at

the interface between disciplines.

Effective start/end date4/15/043/31/07


  • National Science Foundation: $95,200.00


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